Project Nur, a student-run organization welcomed at colleges around the country, has recently entered into its fourth semester at Suffolk University. The organization aims to challenge the negative representations of Muslims in the media and society through promoting tolerance, understanding and human rights.
The club originated as a student-run branch of the American Islamic Conference (AIC), a non-profit civil rights organization established in the wake of September 11, 2001 that seeks to create tolerance between the Muslim community and other ethnic groups.
“Nur” is the Arabic definition for enlightenment, according to Projectnur.org.
Project Nur is a non-religious group that seeks to bring awareness to human rights issues that affect the world today and allows a “Moderate Muslim voice to be heard on campus and beyond by engaging the emerging American-Muslim community,” according to the organization’s website.
A chapter of Project Nur was started at Suffolk University by student Jihath Gaznavi in the fall of 2009.
Gaznavi approached students she thought would be interested, including Dawn Qadir and Ryan Lachapelle, seniors who are the current president and vice president of Suffolk’s group.
Janet Girardot, Project Nur secretary and senior international relations major, said the club welcomes students of all ethnicities and religions. She also said, Suffolk’s chapter is split almost evenly between members of the Muslim and non-Muslim community.
“I hope we can be a ‘light on campus’ just like our slogan says to show students that there is a moderate view of Islam and that American and Muslim do not have to be a contradiction,” said Qadir.
Qadir, whose mother is Italian, Irish and a Catholic, and has a Muslim father from Pakistan, thought that the group would be perfect for herself.
Project Nur meets every Tuesday from 1 to 2:15 p.m. in the Sawyer Library, where pizza and refreshments are served.
At meetings, the group plans events and discusses a variety of topics, such as personal experiences with human rights issues, crises in the Middle East, and other current events.
“Our mission is to bring awareness of human rights issues around the world,” said Lachapelle. “Also, because of the way Islam and Muslims are depicted in the news media and social culture, we strive to break those stereotypes by having panel discussions on different topics.”
In addition to panel discussions, the group is involved in film screenings and co-sponsors events with other campuses around Boston, including Northeastern and Boston University.
All three hope the group will grow and continue after they graduate.
“I hope [Project Nur] becomes a well-known club on the Suffolk Campus,” said Qadir. “It has an amazing goal to ultimately help educate about Islam and work towards creating a better understanding of those issues in the Muslim world.”